Why Custom Built Joysticks?

October 8, 2008 at 5:54 pm Leave a comment

Some of you reading or following this blog may be wondering “Why do you build these things?” The reasons are numerous and varied. Starting out with my personal reasons I like to make things with my hands. I am a computer programmer by day and I can’t get my hands around the code I write day in and day out. Yet in the evenings I am able to grab a piece of wood, shape it, bend it, carve it, or turn it with a variety of tools into a thing of beauty.

One of my other passions is computer gaming. Nothing can compare to the sense of accomplishment when you complete a stage in a game or follow a storyline as the lead character to the end. Those of you who follow me on Twitter may have caught a tweet from me a few weeks ago that celebrated just such an event. Another style of game I like to play are the strategy games like Command & Conquer. In these games you pit your wit against the computer or another live person through a network or internet connection. These games are modern day versions of chess. The final style of game I like to play is the 2-D fighter. Here my son and younger daughter join me with a passion. We love to pummel each other with our favorite characters.

It is this last style of game that got me started into a program called MAME. MAME stands for Multiple Arcade Machine Emulation. The people that write the code for this emulator are working to preserve the entertainment that the arcade machines were before the hardware is lost forever. I remember the days of my youth where I pumped quarter after quarter into these games. Now with some internet sleuthing, computer setup, arcade controls and a little woodworking I have an arcade machine in my basement. The only difference between the machines of the past and mine is that mine is not limited to a single game. I have my choice. I can go old school and send PacMan around his maze, break some blocks in Arcanoid, defend the earth from Space Invaders, or beat up some funky looking character in Street Fighter.

I found out it the process that I liked building these machines. The only problem is that they take quite a bit of time, effort and money to construct. It was about this time that a fellow member of arcadecontrols.com started making these little boxes that housed just the joystick, some buttons and connected to any computer via USB. A portable arcade machine. That got my imagination running and I went in search of more information.

That search led me to what I do now. I found out that people want to purchase these custom built arcade authentic controllers. Some of them wanted to use them on a computer, others on their favorite console gaming system. Most of the games played using these little boxes were my favorite style, Fighting Games. I had finally found something that I could enjoy doing and posibly earn a little spending cash in the process.

One final question you may have is where do my customers get the money to buy these creations? Well most of them work for a living like you and I. Yet there are the professional gamers that enter tournaments and actually get paid some serious prize money. Don’t believe me? Check out this article that appeared in a local University newspaper. Even though my joysticks are not usable for Halo 3 there are other tournaments that cater to the fighting style of games.

I hope you enjoyed this journey into my little corner of the world. Feel free to leave comments to this post as I would love to hear your feedback.

Game On!

Entry filed under: Fighting Games, Joystick, MAME.

And thus the post season ends. Design idea, Input needed

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He who works with his hands is a laborer.
He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.
He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.
– St. Francis of Assisi
Where do you fit?

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